The Gospel: From Oral Tradition to the Written Text

But often the skeptic today questions the accuracy of the things written because he denies inspiration and there was a period of time that passed between Jesus' ministry and the writing of the gospels. 2 min


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The Gospel: From Oral Tradition to the Written Text
The Gospel: From Oral Tradition to the Written Text

The oral tradition begins our discussion today.  You have to start with the presumption, How did Christ become God?  The phrases used in years gone past is the historical Jesus and The Christ of faith in the New Testament.  The argument goes that the historical Jesus is factually correct but the Church made Christ into a God.  How do we resolve these issues?

How do you prove that the historical Jesus is the same as the Christ of Faith?  We already have evidence that historical Jesus lived and walked the earth.  This was well documented in the previous blog, Did Christ live? Just because you can not prove something does not mean it is not true.

Most cultures even today teach by oral tradition, word of mouth.  During the time of Jesus, nobody could read or write they were illiterate on this point. Does not mean they were stupid. This means that during Jesus time you had an event, then that event was retold over and over again.   Rabbinical teaching would teach by word of mouth, retelling the event over and over again, till the student would remember it and was able to pass it along to others.  This way the student could memorize large portions of the Torah.

In an oral society there are three ways to retell an event;

  1. Informal uncontrolled, which means anyone could tell the event with no controls as to the accuracy of the story.
  2. Formal control, this meant that only the Rabbinical priest could retell the story.
  3. Informal control, this meant during the first century of Christ the apostles or disciples would retell the story.  This is where you see the different versions of events in the gospels between Matthew, Mark or Luke.  However, if you were retelling an event.  You had respected folks in the community that would correct you on your story.  Perhaps they were an eyewitness to something or that was not the way they were taught. So you have differences in the story but it does not take away the core of the story.  It stays factually true.

During the times of Christ in America as early as the 18th-century children were taught to memorize the entire Bible by their parents and the schools. Just a footnote.

We can all remember a core event like when America landed on the moon.  We can retell the core of the story but perhaps not who the astronauts were.  However, in a corporate pool, you have more folks remembering and coming closer to the truth.  It takes on its own life. The core of the story does not change the morality of it.  This was the same mechanisms in place during the time of Christ.

It must be noted that during the first century their memorization skills vastly outpaced ours nowadays.  Everyday life had to be memorized not like today where we write everything down.  Coupled with the fact as it states in John 14: 26,

“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you”.

I believe the Holy Spirit would have made sure the stories retained their accuracy.  So can we trust the gospels with their variations?  I would have to say yes.

Do We Know Who Wrote the Gospels?  We have seen that in an oral society as was the case with Jesus in the first century.  There were rigid traditions in place to safeguard the accuracy of the events.  Keep this in mind when we look at the authorship of the 4 gospels.  The church just would not have assigned just anybody’s name to the different synoptic gospels.  Without having clear evidence of authorship at hand.


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  1. When Reading the Bible (KJV)

    You must be sincere in wanting peace and truth because this is what God is, peace IN truth.
    44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him:
    John 6:44 (KJV)
    Then by the grace of God and with the help of the spirit you will find the truth.

    When reading the bible (KJV) don’t be afraid to ask questions, the first gift God gave man was to be made in his image, meaning we have the ability to use logic and reason, which separates us from the animals, Gen 1:26 (KJV).
    And look for the answers in God’s word,
    4 … yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written… Romans 3:4 (KJV),
    i.e.,
    Why didn’t the disciples know that Jesus could feed the 4,000 after he had fed the 5,000 in the previous chapter?
    Most answer this with “because they didn’t have faith” and are placated, but the fact is that anyone involved in such a miracle and still skeptical would not only remember it but would be anxious for a similar situation arise to prove it one way or the other. This discrepancy was intentionally put in to prod those with eyes to see to investigate. The answer is given where Jesus speaks of the leaven of the Pharisees. If that bread were literal then the disciples had every reason to think that Jesus was being literal about the leaven and thus he had no reason to chide them,
    O ye of little faith,… Matt 16:8 (KJV)
    but that bread being symbolic like the leaven, he then chided them for not considering or understanding his teachings even after a third time of bringing it up.

    Throughout his whole life in the flesh Jesus followed no will of his own.
    38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. John 6:38 (KJV)
    Jesus’ life represents the bread of life, or the laws of life.
    51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. John 6:51 (KJV)
    Now the bread being symbolic of the Word of God means that the fish are symbolic as well.
    Jesus taught the true meaning (spirit) of the laws or meat of the laws.
    27 Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. John 6:27 (KJV)
    also;
    …and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. Heb 5:12 (KJV)
    Therefore the teachings of Jesus are symbolized by the two fish.
    It has been 2,000 yrs. since Jesus’ teachings making each fish represent 1,000 yrs. Nowhere in the bible does it teach that the following verse isn’t literal.
    8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 2 Peter 3:8 (KJV)
    In fact it has to be literal because there is no way that the vision spoken of in Daniel 8:26 happened in a 24 hr. period.

    The five loaves of bread Jesus fed the people represented the laws God gave for 5,000 years of men from Adam to Jesus Christ. The two little fishes represent the two remaining days of the second week in which Jesus left the New Testament for all people, bringing meaning (meat) to all who truly believe and read it. The 12 baskets of fragments picked up after the meal represent the adoption out of all 12 tribes (all nations) who will be picked up and taken to a New Earth after the 3 1/2 year tribulation period. Jesus did not feed those people physical food, the food he fed was spiritual and the teachings (doctrine) of God, St.Matt. 16:5-9-12.

    You must use the verse 2 Peter 3:8 as literal when rightly dividing the Word of truth.

    Back in the 1600’s God saw to it that the certain scriptures were translated into English “KJ bible” and was put into print so that all could read for themselves the truth that is HIDDEN in the scriptures. God did this because he knew that he would bring about this powerful nation [U.S.A. and the english language] of ours to lead the world to heaven on earth or destruction (so far we are on the path of destruction).
    The scriptures were written by apostles and prophets inspired by God and the Holy Ghost. The compilation (canonization) of the scripture use was done by the direction of God and the Holy Ghost. The translation to English was also done by the direction of God and the Holy Ghost and they did not make any mistakes, i.e. the fourth horse being “pale” was no mistake, the horse is not green.
    In Greek mythology, the name Chloris (Khloris ??????, from khloros ??????, meaning “greenish-yellow,” “pale green,” “pale,” “pallid” or “fresh”) appears…
    Pallid
    1. pale; faint or deficient in color; wan: a pallid countenance.

    16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
    17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
    2 Tim 3:16-17 (KJV)

    The bible (KJV) is for our admonition so when Paul is telling Timothy, 4 Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: 1 Tim 1:4 (KJV), it is God telling us not to pay attention to the fables (the feeding of the multitudes, among others) but it is the symbolism in the stories that reveal the truth.

    May God have mercy on his children. Amen.

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